Passionate producers = passionate consumers

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I consider Nick to be a good friend, not only personally, but also a good friend to the Delphi community.  His zealous, passionate support for Delphi and the Delphi Development team certainly does not go unnoticed within these walls.  More than once, I've heard or have been known to say “Did you read Nick's latest blog post?”  Now, Nick, before you're cranial cavity expands beyond the point of comfortably traversing a doorway, I also have to say that Nick is most definately a human being as well.  With that, comes all the faults and foibles so many of us share.  I certainly have my fair share of faults... just ask my wife... It's probably a list in a 10meg Word document by now ;-)...

I highlight Nick because he is the epitomy of what he himself is talking about in this most recent blog post where he references this blog post by Kathy Sierra.  Nick is a passionate Delphi user.. you know the type.. “You'll get my Delphi when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.”  You know where he got that?  From the Delphi team.  Members come and member go, but at the core and at the very heart of what is Delphi is a group of passionate, dedicated, engineers.  More than once I've heard from former Delphi team members where they say “I remember my time on the Delphi team as some of the most fun and exciting time in my career.”  Even folks who were peripherally involved, such as former Developer Relations team members.  They all say the same thing.

So why has the Delphi team continued to be so passionate and driven despite any level of corporate maelstrom-du-jour?  I think everyone of you, the loyal, vocal, sometimes irritating, often combative, highly opinionated, yet consistently unwavering and passionate.  When Borland or even the Delphi team makes a mistake, we hear about it... I mean boy do we ever.  But the flip side is also what makes working on Delphi so rewarding; when we do it right, we also hear about it!

Doesn't Borland seem to be heading down this course of “professionalism” and straying away from the “passionate” and why?  In a word... ok a symbol “$”.  In and of itself, that isn't a bad thing.. I mean what would all the recent hurricane victims do if there wasn't a huge influx of “$”?  So overall money is good... 

Borland is currently in a transition, it's growing up.  Is that good?  According to Ms. Sierra and Mr. Graham, it's not and, frankly I think I agree.  Is Borland a lost cause?  Not at all.  I think what is happening is that is that this transition is more painful because it is so committed to making it happen.  I've been saying for a long time, that Borland is too small to act big, and too big to act small.  Being a publically traded company certainly complicates things and increases the pain level... because there is this other group that is neither its customers, nor its employees... they're the shareholders.  They're an impatient lot... hmmm.. sounds familier. I'd say that the Delphi community is just as impatient (when do we get a Unicode VCL?, what about 64bit?,  Is this .NET thing ever going to be real?).. but I digress.  There is certainly a desire throughout the management ranks to rekindle some of these ideas throughout the development teams.  Will they succeed?  Time will tell.

For my part, being a torch bearer for Delphi has been a tough position to be in.  But I see a few glimmers of hope.  Recently, I was involved with a lengthly email thread that involved Rick Jackson, the Borland Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) regarding “why isn't Delphi 'just an IDE'?”  I don't pretend to take credit for this by any means, since there were many, many others involved, but the result of that thread was this posting.  In fact here's some excerpts from what I wrote:

About the Delphi customer/fan base:

Maybe this has been said before and maybe this is news to some... but pigeonholing Delphi into the "its just an IDE" space is really, really missing the whole point.  Delphi is far more than simply an IDE.  In fact, for Delphi the IDE is merely a convenient place for all the technologies that surround Delphi to converge.  Delphi is a proprietary language (one that Borland wholly owns), it is a component framework from which many others are measured, including Microsoft .NET Windows Forms Framework. <snip>.  The Delphi customer base is a loyal, rabid fan base.  What other product has this kind of following, at Borland or any other company for that matter?  The near cult-like following that is the Delphi market is not one to be shunned or scorned, either directly or indirectly by gross omission.  It is one that should be nurtured and cultivated...from all facets of the company.

How is Delphi different from other “IDE” products such as JBuilder, or even Eclipse?

Why is it that Delphi seems to continually and consistently bring in a stable revenue stream?  Consider the difference between JBuilder and Delphi. Borland doesn't own the language, the compiler, or even the frameworks.  JBuilder was, in effect, just an IDE.  Of course that market suffered from erosion from Eclipse and other entries in the Java IDE market.  It was relatively easy for someone to move between the different IDEs.  The same language and the same frameworks existed and worked with all the different IDEs.  The IDEs could only compete on features, JDK support, J2EE support, etc..  <snip>

Please, if you're a JBuilder customer, don't take this as some attack on JBuilder because, frankly JBuilder is an absolutely awesome tool!  I have nothing but respect and admiration for how much JBuilder has served to “raise the bar” among all IDEs.

My summary on what Delphi truly is:

So, no, Delphi is not just an IDE.  Take away any one of these three things; the language, framework, development environment, and Delphi ceases being Delphi.

Not to leave it out, but I also included C++Builder as well.

What about C++Builder?  It is very similar situation as well.  While, yes it is based on the widely used C++ language, it is no less proprietary.  In order to properly support the Delphi VCL framework, and since we also control both the C++ and Delphi compilers, we were able to extend the C++ language in such a way as to allow the use of the Delphi/Pascal VCL framework to be used with C++.  In fact, C++Builder would have not existed without Delphi.  The Delphi compiler actually directly generates all the necessary supporting files and libraries required for a C++Builder application.  The relationship between Delphi and C++Builder is very symbiotic.  Like the Delphi market, the C++Builder market is no less loyal and near cult-like.  <snip>  Remember the open letter from the C++Builder community to Borland?  What customer base, even a C++ customer base, would take the time to create a letter and get signatures from many rather large installations?

And finally, about the Delphi/C++Builder team:

This rabid following both for Delphi and C++ Builder translates directly to the development teams.  Most of the members of the Delphi/C++Builder team love working on the product not only because they believe in the product, but also because they know and understand the Delphi and C++Builder market and its customers.

So any place you see “<snip>”, they're just a few places were some internally sensitive statements were made.. but that amounts to about 4 sentences and don't really add any more to the tone of what I was trying to say.  By all counts, this message was heard loud and clear.  Within the next two weeks, corporate marketing (not to belabor the point but, yes, folks there actually is a group called “marketing” in Borland :-) was requesting an audience with nearly all the members of the Delphi team.  We sat down in a conference room for 2.5 hours where we got to explain Delphi, the Delphi team, the Delphi market, and the Delphi product to this team.  There were about 4 members of the marketing team listening and writing furiously as many members of the Delphi team proceeded to enthusiastically, passionately and fevently explain why Delphi is important.  Many points were raised, most of which I've already covered above.  The level of detail was intense.

So what about all this recent bruhaha surrounding the idea of Delphi being bought out?  Well, if I did actually know anything, I couldn't comment, that's for sure... but one thing I will say is that it is certainly fun to fantasize and ponder “what would the world be like if..?“  Then once you begin to follow that train of thought, with the logistics, the turmoil, the FUD, all of which would be obsticles that I shudder to think about it.  Maybe, maybe not..  let's move on folks.

So will this post get me fired?  I don't know, I doubt it.  I just wanted folks to know that we're not a passive team, and that there are still many champions within Borland for Delphi.  The tireless efforts of John Kaster, Anders Ohlsson, and David I, should be commended as well.  As should other Delphi team members, such as DannySteve Trefethen, Chris Hesik, and others for their continued blogging efforts.



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Comments

  • Guest
    Richard B. Winston Thursday, 29 September 2005

    I'm glad to hear the bit about http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi "continually and consistently bring[ing] in a stable revenue stream." I will be starting a new project soon and the first decision will be what tools to use. I can use that quote to help argue that http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi isn't going away soon. (The information about the 64 bit compiler in the road map helps too because the program will need more than 2 GB of memory in some cases.)

  • Guest
    Chee Wee Thursday, 29 September 2005

    Nice post!



    You forgot to mention about that crazy tech support guy who submitted all sorts of code examples, who wrote the productivity plug-ins, the CF preprocessor, etc... ;o)



    "passionately and fevently explain why http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi is important" should read "passionately and fervently explain why http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi is important". ;o)



    fervently chewy.

  • Guest
    vruz Thursday, 29 September 2005

    awesome post.



    so the mistery has been revealed at last.

    there's actually a marketing dept. at Borland.



    did you guys get to sneak Kyilx in the conversation ?



    zealously pro-delphi yours,



    vruz

  • Guest
    Ryan McGinty Thursday, 29 September 2005

    There is no line between hobby and work for me. Programming is it - it is my business, my fun, my therapy, etc. http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi is what makes it fun and not frustrating. Always has. I can use and have had to use just about everything out there at one time or another. http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi is the bar and no one has touched it yet. My company’s future rides on http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi's. Not because I couldn't move it to something else, but because I would lose the enthusiasm of waking up in the afternoon ;) and sitting down to best damn application dev tool there is.



    I don't do the newsgroups like non-tech, only post/read a few blogs, so I'm not really all that vocal but PLEASE know that EVERY time I get paid by a customer or beat a competitor, part of my success is because of your team and the hard work put into it. Borland and http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi are the top tier for me.

  • Guest
    Marco Cantù Thursday, 29 September 2005

    Great post, and very interesting info on Borland internals. You summarize http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi as "Language, framework, development environment", I'd add "community" as the fourth leg (yes, you mention it at large in this blog post, as I do in my blog post "why http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi"). I was discussing this two days ago at EKON: Borland shuold "shepard" and help building this community, help the http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi-related open source projects in any possible way (like you are doing with fastmm, fastcode...), keep the community gurus in the business loop (I seems to be unable even to be a formal Borland partner, these days, and that's not just me): with the last printed magazine going online only Borland needs to put effort (and money) into this!

  • Guest
    Anonymous Thursday, 29 September 2005

    Allen:



    http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi is a great product and you bunch are the envy of many developers. please continue to give us rabid fans the best and greatest.



    No wonder you guys are not getting the respect due. Your marketing people don't know the difference between an IDE and a very good home grown proprietary and money making Framework and ah, your CTO continues to write long winded marketing poetry trying to impress the unimpressed.



    Keep your heads up.

  • Guest
    Ben du Preez Thursday, 29 September 2005

    Thank You Allen,



    Posts like these restores some of the passion that has eroded for me recently. The relative silence on a roadmap and the quality issues in D2005 really made me doubt our future course of action.



    Some recent blog posts addressed alot of my concerns and just highlights to me how important openness with your customers is in this business. I just hope Borland Upper Management realises that they cannot keep their customers in the dark if they wish to keep them.



    Thanks again and keep up the great work.

  • Guest
    John McLaine Thursday, 29 September 2005

    To: Ben du Preez



    You have written exactly my feelings!



    To Allen:

    I must say that I have a lot of blogs at my favorites, I read them quite all but with a fast reading, but when I get to click YOUR blog, I am impacient to read every single letter. I must say, that you have given me back, with your actions and words, what D2005 took from my heart, the PASSION for http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi. Since 1997 every day I have been coding with http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi, the first think I do when arriving at my office is make a cofee and click my http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi Icon to bring it up to memory :-), and believe me, sometimes after hours of coding I even talked to http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi as it where a friend..as a F1 Driver caress his car after a good race..(maybe somebody changed my cofee cup with a whisky cup). Seriously... I love absolutely http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi, I have defended it against all VB developers, I allways used to say a setence from sombody at Borland "If it is possible in windows then it is possible with http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi" and It allways has been so.. I even have developed a printer driver from scratch with http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi... so to end... Thank you Allen and all other implicated for all, and.. may the force be with you.



    Regards,

    John.

  • Guest
    Pawel Glowacki Thursday, 29 September 2005

    Great post Allen!



    Straight from the heart to our hearts.

    Without passion nothing is possible.



    Go http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi!



    very best regards to whole http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi Team,



    Pawel

  • Guest
    Stephane Wierzbicki Thursday, 29 September 2005

    What a great post Allen !

    Keep on going this way , the http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi spirit is even stronger :)



    Big thank to the whole http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi Team

  • Guest
    David Clegg Thursday, 29 September 2005

    Allen you're a DSL! (John Kaster can translate if needed :-))



    That was one awesome post. I have never doubted the passion of the http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi development team, but it is still good to see you guys fighting so fervently for 'the cause'. It is also great that you finally seem to be making some headway into explaining the http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi phenonemon to those within Borland who may not grok it fully.



    Keep up the great work!

  • Guest
    IanH Thursday, 29 September 2005

    Fantastic stuff.



    I am part of the "loyal, rabid fanbase" because of the sheer excellence of the product, and it's commercial benefit to me: not through blind attachment.



    It's Borland's job to maintain http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi's position as the most productive tool set. I KNOW that the team understand this (and probably relish the challege), but the execs must understand that to just match MS is to fail.



    Starving http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi of resources will result in product stagnation + sales decline, and convert 'mature' product into 'legacy' product.



    They must also understand that downplaying the significance of http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi to Borland can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • Guest
    Dave White Thursday, 29 September 2005

    As I told John K in the newsgroups yesterday; I haven't been this excited about http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi sice D5. I own all versions (Except 8) but I still work exclusively in D5. If you guys can follow through, I'll be converting everything to DeXter.



    There seems to be a new energy behind the whole product - http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi is an enigma - it's Pascal for gods sake, and all the guys in our IT department laugh at me for using it - until they need something quick, and http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi always wins the day and blows them away - but they still can't accept Pascal.



    You have a rabid, often bitchy, whiney, complaining following - but if they didn't love the product deep down, they'd have migrated to $soft ages ago - some people just like to hear the sound of their own voice. Keep up the good work guys.

  • Guest
    Eric Thursday, 29 September 2005

    Finally! This is the kind of thing we want to hear and read from Borland, that demonstrates http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi is understood for what it is, and not what marketing spinmeisters through the ages have tried to make it look like or sound to be.



    Great post!

  • Guest
    Godfrey Fletcher Thursday, 29 September 2005

    Great news



    These past months have been a difficult time. As a http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi user since D1 I have been loath to move to another development package.



    Now I can look forward to D2006 and on. Lets see http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi back where it should be at the top of the pile.



    Get those marketing guys going.

  • Guest
    Martin James Thursday, 29 September 2005

    Excellent!



    When I first required a Windows development system, decades ago, I had no preconceived allegiances. I chose D3 because, simply put, VB was just poor - slow, no threads and no classes. C++ was acres of gunge that was difficult to maintain, but Pascal looked like a real compiled language that made sense immediately when looking at a screenful of code.





    The impact of http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi on my productivity was immediate and range of industry-encompassing functionality available blew me away by the time I got to D5.



    This is an awesome product that just *has* to continue to generate the class-leading solutions to customer and developer requirements that we've been used to.



    If I have to resort to C++ for regular development, I won't be signing any maintenance contracts!



    Keep it up - we appreciate it.



    Rgds,

    Martin













  • Guest
    Dennis Landi Thursday, 29 September 2005

    Allen!!!!



    That was a wonderful post.



    Thank you.



    -d

  • Guest
    Bruce McGee Thursday, 29 September 2005

    "rabid fan base"



    I like that. :)

  • Guest
    Kyle Miller Friday, 30 September 2005

    Allen,



    I enjoyed your post. I do not think passion and professionalism are completely incompatible. It is possible to grow Borland and maintain passion. There are a number examples today. It does require a smart and creative executive team to maintain the two. It's good to see you guys sitting down with the executives to explain the http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi culture.



    I do believe the http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi passion is not rooted in a software package full of proprietary features. I enjoy the fresh perspective on solutions to problems that come from Borland, that includes the JBuilder team. Sometimes it's proprietary; sometimes, it's not. With the competition, I know what's in the box, the standard solutions. I see what's status quo. With http://www.borland.com/delphi" target="_blank">Delphi, it offers something outside the box, something that is often ahead of its time.



    I wrote more details about this in Nick's blog. Please see my comments at...

    http://www.lemanix.com/nick/archive/2005/09/29/3110.aspx#3122">http://www.lemanix.com/nick/archive/2005/09/29/3110.aspx#3122

  • Guest
    Thomas Mitchelle Friday, 30 September 2005

    Absolutely correct on all counts. Its very good to hear that the development team are as passionate as the developers that use their product!



    Thanks for giving us this small insight!

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